On Monday (July 25), the Atlanta prosecutor tasked with probing the former president Donald Trump and his allies’ effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election result in Georgia was disqualified by a judge from criminally investigating one o the 16 Republicans who served on a phony slate of pro-Trump electors.
According to The Hill, the ruling was a rebuke to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and came after a judge found a conflict of interest barred Willis and her office from investigating Georgia state Sen. Burt Jones, one of the electors.
Last month, the district attorney hosted a fundraiser for a Democratic candidate who went on to win his party’s nomination and will now face off against Jones, whom Willis targeted through the grand jury’s investigation.
“This scenario creates a plain — and actual and untenable – conflict,” Judge Robert McBurney of the Superior Court of Fulton County wrote in his order, according to The Hill. “Any decision the District Attorney makes about Senator Jones in connection with the grand jury investigation is necessarily infected by it.”
“An investigation of this significance, garnering the public attention it necessarily does and touching so many political nerves in our society, cannot be burdened by legitimate doubts about the District Attorney’s motives,” he added.
The investigation of Jones is now expected to be handed off to another prosecutor’s office.
The Atlanta DA investigation of Trump is one of the most significant legal threats to Trump’s ability to run for president in 2024.
In court papers, Willis argued the judge to reject Jones’ request to disqualify her, arguing Bailey was still locked in a runoff with a fellow Democratic contender at the time of the event.
McBurney was not swayed and noted that whoever won the runoff would eventually face Jones. “Thus, the District Attorney pledged her name, likeness, and office to Bailey as her candidate of choice at a time when, if Bailey were successful (which he was), he would face Senator Jones,” he wrote. “This choice — which the District Attorney was within her rights as an elected official to make — has consequences.”